Social Media or Search Engine Marketing: Which Is Best For My Business?

As digital marketers, we’re often asked to provide our expert opinions on the best place to spend your marketing dollar online. If leveraged effectively, there are many fundamental characteristics of social media and search engine marketing that can bring good traffic to your site. But, what works for one business may not work for another, so consider your business goals as you read the following breakdown of SEM (search engine marketing) compared to SMM (social media marketing).

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Your VIP Pass

Search Engine Marketing, the aggregation of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC), offers an opportunity to effectively reach your target audience, your VIPs. SEM’s greatest strength is delivering your brand message to motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they are ready to make a purchase. No other advertising channel can do this, which is why SEM is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.

How Can SEM Help My Business?

Websites with high visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) reach the fullest potential from SEM. In order for you to benefit from SEM, you must first define the keywords, or search queries, that motivated customers would use when searching online for your business.

Every keyword search yields 4-7 paid ads, 10 organic listings, and possibly universal features such as maps listings, quick answers, news articles and more. This means for every search on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, there are between 10-16 websites that compete for the eye of a motivated customer.

How does a site achieve high keyword rankings?

The next step after keyword research is to launch your SEO and/or PPC campaign. An effective SEO strategy should align website content and site architecture to target keywords in order to achieve a higher organic ranking. PPC advertising allows you to determine the maximum bid you’re willing to spend each time your keyword shows in high ranking positions. PPC doesn’t require the same content optimization tactics as SEO, but these efforts work most effectively when the strategies are aligned. Data from PPC can be used to inform which keywords convert the strongest, and are worth pursuing through SEO. Ensure that your keywords are exclusively used by your VIPs, otherwise you’ll be opening the door to unwanted guests (and paying to target them).

For more, check out our blog on SEO & PPC: Better Together.

Consider this example:

A pediatric dentist considers incorporating SEM into her digital marketing strategy. Here, her ads and organic listings only show when a user is actively searching for her services. Visibility at the right point in the customer’s journey is critical to her business goals. Therefore, her ad and organic listing should rank on the coveted page #1 in order to ensure exposure to reach her target audience.

Search Engine Marketing

Facebook: Welcome to the Cocktail Party!

Your next client may very well be an active Facebook user. In fact, with Facebook’s sophisticated advertising algorithm, you’ll likely be able to reach him or her with an ad for your business. But, your opportunity to reach your next client is much like showing up to a cocktail party.

Just like at a party, you may attract attention, but not everyone you reach will reciprocate with immediate response. In order to maximize your opportunity, introduce yourself several times to ensure you’ve had a good chance to connect.

How Can Facebook Help My Business?

Effective Facebook marketing requires strategizing your brand messaging to fit into a social environment. Facebook Business suggests that these industries are best-suited for Facebook advertising, based on their active user base:

  • Ecommerce
  • Consumer goods
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Home services
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • B2B

Through Facebook, users are not likely to be actively searching for your product or service when browsing. Users on Facebook have a lot of content to digest, from information about local events, to dialogues between friends, to updates on their favorite entertainment. There are many factors why a user may not interact with your ads upon first impression. But, if branded effectively, your ads may return a sale when the time to buy is right for them.

From our last example, our pediatric dentist defines a clear target audience for Facebook marketing. Her ads reached the right people that were most likely to make an appointment. Not all of the users reached were looking to make an appointment at the time that they saw her ad. But, her ad was memorable, and served several times to help generate awareness for a new patient when the time was right for them.

Advertisers can boost engagement on a Facebook ad by creating a sense of urgency. Just like trying to signal over the bartender, you can get attention with the right messaging. Give your audience a deal or exclusive that encourages interaction with your business. In the example of the pediatric dentist, ad copy like “Back to School Special! Get Your Child’s First Cleaning Free, Now Until August 15th” encourages the user to action. They may click out of Facebook to research the right time to get their child’s teeth cleaned so they can redeem the ad’s offer.

Executed right, businesses can unleash the reaching power of Facebook advertising. Facebook Business demonstrates how a new business was able to generate 11,000 offer claims at a $7 cost per new patient lead using the ad below:

Facebook Advertising

(Source: Facebook Business)

In addition to SEM and Facebook, there are also many other leading advertising channels to consider for your business, each with distinct advantages. Consider the following when finalizing your digital marketing budget:

Instagram: Your Exhibition at the Art Show

Instagram users are looking to share their stories as well consume content from those around them. Just like a user, advertisers have four methods for sharing content on Instagram: photos, videos, carousels, and stories.

If Facebook is a cocktail party, Instagram is an art show. Advertisers who perform well on Instagram treat ads on the platform with an artistic environment in mind. Instagram users are looking to engage with powerful images and shareable content. Curate your ad to fit into the other stories found across Instagram, while targeting the audience that is most likely to interact with your business.

How Can Instagram Help My Business?

If you’re new to Instagram advertising, you should consider leveraging performance data you already know about other social campaigns. Instagram is effective for these key business goals: driving brand awareness, boosting website or app engagement, and increasing conversions.

Businesses that succeed on Instagram understand how the medium fits into their buyer’s path to purchase and optimizes visibility during their journey. Businesses that are design focused, or can highlight their products or services with compelling imagery are best suited for Instagram. Remember, Instagram gives your business the opportunity to share your story, so consider reasons why a user would engage with your content.

Instagram Business shares the success of an online furniture retailer whose campaign raised brand awareness through retargeting to drive an 8X return on ad spend over 90 days. This campaign’s success stemmed from strategic ad targeting, powerful photography and compelling story-telling.

Instagram Advertising

(Source: Instagram Business)

Twitter: Speed Dating with Your Audience

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is copy-focused rather than visual-focused. Twitter is, at its heart, a social communication platform wherein its users share news, ideas, and commentary.

Twitter is popular with celebrities, athletes, and even big brands, where every registered user has a voice. But Twitter can also be used as a powerful tool for businesses to stay connected with their customers and leads when used properly. With the right approach, the benefits of Twitter for business can include increased brand awareness and a renewed sense of thought leadership, not to mention improved website traffic and conversions.

Advertising on Twitter is like speed dating. Not only are all users restricted with 140 characters to share a thought, users tend to filter through a long log of tweets to find ones that most impact them. So, businesses need to quickly grab attention with a compelling campaign.

Hashtags on Twitter help businesses connect with their audience, by grouping similar content in one thread. This narrows down the results for users looking for one particular topic or thought.

How Can Twitter Help My Business?

Through Twitter, you can reach your current customer base for a brand loyalty campaign as well as reach new customers for brand awareness. Businesses can use Twitter to converse with their followers to show their loyalty through customer service. Successful Twitter campaigns build relationships with customers in order to drive future sales.

Businesses that are successful through Twitter advertising start by building a following, then sharing memorable content that connect to their business objectives.

In order to measure ROI, use a website tag for conversion tracking and remarketing. This website tag also enables your team to focus on remarketing by targeting ads to people who previously visited their site or bought from them. Targeting high-intent shoppers efficiently can boost site traffic and purchases.

According to the Twitter Business site, an international clothing retailer executed a campaign that increased online purchases with a lower cost-per-acquisition. This campaign’s success stemmed from strategic ad targeting, seasonal promotions, and compelling call to action.

Twitter Advertising

(Source: Twitter Business)

LinkedIn: Networking Function for Lead Generation

LinkedIn serves advertisers more like a networking function rather than a cocktail party. With LinkedIn, B2B marketers have a platform to speak to prospective customers targeted by industry and job title. If you’re looking to connect with the lead decision maker across several prospective clients, consider LinkedIn advertising in your business plan.

Most social media platforms don’t have the demographic information to precisely target a business message. LinkedIn members self-report their job history, industry, title, level of experience, and more. This gives LinkedIn advertisers greater leverage over their strategy.

How Can LinkedIn Help My Business?

LinkedIn advertising aims to increase awareness in order to drive high quality leads. Share professional content to connect with a high-intent audience. LinkedIn allows advertisers to target professional audiences with rich demographic data, interest-based filtering, and persona targeting.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions suggests that all B2B industries are well suited for advertising on their platform.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions reports a technology firm utilized a Dynamic Ad campaign that converted at 11%, at 68% lower cost-per-lead than other social channels. This campaign was effective because it combined members’ profile images with a brand’s name and message for a native feel.

LinkedIn Advertising

(Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions)

So, Social Media or Search Engine Marketing: Which Is Best For My Business?

Making the most out of your digital marketing dollar requires insight and strategy. You need a clear picture of who your target audience and develop a comprehensive strategy based on which platform you’re using. If you’d like to get started with your own digital marketing campaign, or need to revise your current plan, reach out to AIS Media today by calling 404-751-1043 or contacting us online. We can provide a free website performance analysis and show you how to maximize your online marketing budget.